Saturday, September 17, 2011

Protecting the Under Six-Month Crowd

The crazy thing about influenza is that the very infants, those under six months old, that are most vulnerable can't receive the influenza vaccine. So how do you protect your little one?

Dr. Jessica Schultz shared some thoughts on how to protect infants under six months from influenza: 

  • Vaccination for those who can. All family members over the age of 6 months and any caregivers should receive the influenza vaccine as soon as it is available to them.  By decreasing the chance of influenza in the family or daycare setting, the young infant is less likely to be exposed. Have you had your flu shot or flu mist yet?
  • Wash your hands and those of your older children frequently.  Use warm water and soap for 20-30 seconds.  To keep kids washing, sing “Row, row, row, your boat” or the Happy Birthday” song at least twice.  If water and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hand, or use a tissue.  Throw any tissues used to blow your nose away immediately and then wash your hands
  • Avoid Crowds For infants less than 6 months of age, avoid large groups or areas where they may be easily exposed to influenza.
  • Establish a routine when people enter your home When older siblings come home from school, leave backpacks and other bags at the door and have everyone wash their hands before doing anything else

  • Minimize contact or use a mask if you're ill. While anyone in the family has flu-like symptoms, they should minimize contact with young infants in the family and if contact is necessary, wear a mask and wash your hands every time before you hold the baby or come within 3-6 feet of the infant. provides this guidance to breastfeeding mothers: 
"Mothers who are breastfeeding should continue to nurse their babies while being treated for the flu. Breast milk passes on antibodies from the mother to a baby. Antibodies help fight off infection. 
  • If possible, only adults who are not sick should care for infants, including providing feedings.
  • If you are too sick to breastfeed, pump and have someone give your milk to your baby.
  • Be careful not to cough or sneeze in the baby’s face; wash your hands often with soap and water."
Finally, be watchful for signs of flu in your child  and call your doctor right away if you notice any. If you don't have a doctor you can find one here
Dr. Jessica Schultz is a member of the Children's Medical Center team, a pediatric practice affiliated with TMC for Children. Dr. Schultz is also one of the founders of the Grow 2B Fit Foundation which aims to help families live happier healthier lives through exercise and nutrition education.

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